• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Senate Rejects Spending Caps, and Reality

    Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, took to the floor yesterday to protest an effort led by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to place a relatively modest cap on discretionary spending. Before raising a budget point of order (which requires 60 votes to overcome), Chairman Inouye made two interesting arguments against the measure.

    First, he argued that the cap on discretionary spending would allow entitlement programs to continue their unabated growth. The chairman is, of course, correct. However, he is most certainly aware that over the past three years, discretionary, non-emergency spending has increased nearly 25%. If Sessions-McCaskill had been in place three years ago, the taxpayers could have saved $165 billion. And, as Senator McCaskill kindly pointed out, the caps mirror President Obama’s budget request.

    Second, the chairman suggested a Congressional spending cap would preempt the President’s debt commission. Earlier this year, my Heritage colleague Stuart Butler suggested that an executive commission “would merely remove pressure on Congress or the President to take action.”

    Inouye’s desire to punt on tough issues and place responsibility in the hands others is one reason why Americans are so frustrated with Washington. Last month, Rasmussen found that 83% of Americans believe Congress’s “unwillingness to reduce government spending” is to blame for our exploding debt. At this point, Congress is clearly incapable of handling these complex issues and the presence of a faux-commission only serves as a scapegoat for inaction.

    Fortunately, there is a silver lining. On January 28, only 56 Senators voted for an earlier version of the Sessions-McCaskill spending caps. This time around, 59 Senators vote for a slightly revised proposal. Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) switched from Nay to Yea votes and new Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) supported the measure.

    Incredibly, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is also an appropriator, actually changed his position during the roll call vote. He initially voted Yea, which would have given the measure the necessary 60 votes in support. However, at some point before the vote was finalized, he changed his vote to Nay resulting in failure for the spending caps.

    Congress has a terminal spending addiction, and spending caps are a good first step to curing that addiction. Time will tell if they are willing to take that step, and more. The American people will certainly be watching.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    Comments are closed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×